Biden toes Trump’s policy on Pakistan
Imran Khan’s call to Turkey’s Preside Recep Tayyip Erdogan elicited a promise of “steadfast support” without condemnation of India. A similar call for support to Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad resulted only in a lukewarm expression of concern. Despite having started to reboot its diplomatic ties with the US to end the stalemate of the last few years, Islamabad’s relations with other nations have been on the downside because it lied to the world about the presence of Al Qaeda chief — Osama bin Laden — in Pakistan. The Americans nailed these lies by carrying out Operatsion Neptune Spear and he was found in Abbottabad near the elite military school in Pakistan and was liquidated. All eyes are on Pakistan and it has to come clean and stop breeding terrorists in its backyard and root them out.
Former US President Trump had voiced his strong-arm policy against terrorism. Now the almost same policy is echoed by the current Joe Biden Administration. Pakistan has to take it seriously if it wishes to get financial aid from the US. Financial Action Task Force is eyeing Pakistan. China removed the objection to putting Pakistan on the grey list by FATF.
Pakistan is being placed on the global terrorist-financing list from June 2018 onwards that would endanger its handful of remaining banking links to the outside world causing financial pain to its economy. Saudi Arabia has also removed its objection and now only Turkey is supporting Pakistan. President Trump has said it is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who breed, support and finance terror groups. The US administration has charted a new South Asia policy in which it has sought a larger role for India in South Asia and has put Pakistan on notice.
Pakistan’s temper tantrums and petulance responses have not convinced the US and other nations. Pakistan has to take a hard look at options. It has to play tough against Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and all other similar groups.
International relations are seldom about legalistic and moral arguments of the kind Pakistanis offer about the invalidity of then Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession and subsequent UN resolutions on Kashmir. Countries care more about their interests and Pakistan offers less and less in terms of value concerning others.
China’s annual trade with India amounts to $95 billion compared to $13 billion with Pakistan. Turkey’s trade with India stands at $8.6 billion against $1 billion with Pakistan. Malaysia-India trade at $14 billion is 14 times more than the $1 billion of goods and services Malaysia exchanges with Pakistan.
Buying peace with hostile neighbour
Modi by now is conscious that he may not be able to transact any big issue with Pakistan because it wants business on Siachen and Sir Creek, which in turn is always demurred. India does not buy any formula on Kashmir, as it firmly believes terror and talks cannot go together and until and unless Pakistan brings to the book perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai killings. The territorial status of Kashmir is not negotiable. Thus, the only issue that can find an agreement is enhanced trade relations and other economic development schemes but that too will take some time to materialise.
Conducting frequent talks at different levels, which do not yield a satisfying outcome, is part of diplomacy. India and its Prime Minister are to be seen as a participant in the process of buying peace with even the hostile neighbour country to promote his credentials as a moderniser internationally.
It is time for Pakistan to take these harsh realities into account instead of just emotional and religion-based appeals to settle what could not be settled in 1947. The civilizational ethos of foreign policy should be a strong belief in universal brotherhood- ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’
(The Author is Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and; Geo Strategic analyst. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)